You don’t have to care about the NFL schedule yet

You don’t have to care about the NFL schedule yet


Hooray for the NFL’s drip-feeding of mostly inconsequential news!
Photo: Getty Images

For anyone who’s ever sat at work, thinking, “this meeting could’ve been an email,” this question is for you: Why are you transfixed by the NFL’s schedule being released in bits and pieces for a whole week?

A sports league whose teams are active one day a week for one-third of the year has somehow managed to take over the entire calendar and all of our attention, and it makes no sense for anybody but the league. Good for them to make it seem like what they’re doing in months that don’t end in “ber” or “uary” has any meaning whatsoever, but what dupes we all are to buy it.

It starts innocently enough, with minicamps and organized team activities. It’s a long offseason, and good to make sure that everyone is staying on the same page, keeping in shape, all that stuff. That leads you into training camp, which doesn’t matter in any sport, but which eats up, somehow, half as much time as the season itself, from the first reporting date to when the preseason finally wraps up.

The monster, of course, is the draft, which has gone from a smoke-filled hotel ballroom in Philadelphia — where team owners led by Bert Bell figured out that they could assign players to teams and therefore not have to bid against each other to pay those players a fair market value — to a three-day dorkfest on the Las Vegas Strip. People dress up, paint their faces, and pay thousands of dollars for hotels and airline tickets… to see something that could be done in three hours on Zoom if the Vikings didn’t keep getting up for more potato chips.

At least the draft has an unknown element to it. We already know who’s playing who, home and away, because the NFL schedule is based on a divisional rotation and the previous season’s standings. All that’s left is the dates, but you already know the dates: You’ll be sitting in front of your television on Thursday nights, all day Sunday, and Monday night, because you’re inescapably addicted to this league. They’re just leaking out some details leading up to the full schedule release because it gives each of their TV partners, the ones who put all the money into football, a moment to… let’s say… peacock.

And that’s fine! Enjoy football! But you don’t have to care about this. It can be cool that the Rams and Broncos will get the Nickelodeon treatment on Christmas (sort of, anyway — the NFL already puts its players through enough that Christmas is a bit much, and that game isn’t going to be as good as the league and Viacom think it is). It can also be something that you completely ignore until the full schedule is released.

You do not need to think about football on May 9, 10, 11, or even the day that the full schedule comes out, May 12. You can look at it anytime between then and the end of the summer, and it won’t change. It’s meaningful if you’re a person who will travel to football games and book tickets, sure, but even if that’s you, wouldn’t you rather have all the information at once? Instead, you find out one or two games before Thursday, when the schedule is announced in a televised special for one reason and one reason only: The NFL has its own TV channel and there are more than 8,000 hours a year when nobody is playing NFL football… not that most NFL football is even seen on NFL Network.

They should air the schedule release show a few more times during the summer, actually. It would both help to fill some of that time, and serve as a reminder of what the schedule is because, after four days of nonstop hype about it, we’ll all have forgotten 99 percent of the NFL schedule by Friday afternoon, because it’s a silly thing that we’re silly to pay attention to.





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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.